A straight line between me and the building across the park does exist, but there are a hundred or so zombies along that line and I don’t like those odds. I do like bagels and french fries. Not death by monsters.
I know I should take a moment to enjoy the scenery, breathe in the fresh air; but I can’t. My name is on that building across the street and I have to see who wrote it.
I’ll write again when I’m safe. Next thing is to get the sled and get to the treeline without being seen.
I was not safe. I was never safe. Within the trees, there was a horde of the living dead. More than the hundred I saw from above. They kept to the trees though. Most of them were wearing outdoors gear, so at first, I thought maybe they were just remembering their hobbies from when they were human. Funny that I know what ‘outdoors’ gear looks like, huh?
I was walking behind some concrete barriers, crouched down and moving as fast as a drunk snail to get to ensure nothing saw me. I paused to figure out where I was, and more importantly, where the zombies were, and I looked into the trees. Hanging from almost every tree branch around is a mirror-like object. Wind chimes are set up to attract attention upward and there are a few bits of food hanging from the branches as well, I guess to make sure all the zombies’ tastes were accounted for. The forest was turned into a trap. The zombies look up, see themselves, and like kids in front of a mirrored wall at a dance hall, stare for hours at their own exploits. Whoever set this trap is a genius. I’m not safe. I’ll never be safe here. But at least a few hundred zombies are having a crazy disco party and far too busy to notice me.
It was him. Avem. I can’t even describe what my mind went through when I saw his face again. I don’t know if I thought anything at all. I knew he was alive, but after all this time out here I thought for sure I’d only see him as a mirage or a wild hallucination after eating the wrong berry. But he was there. I walked up to him, kissed his cheek, and hugged him for a long, long time.
I crawled around the forest for a day and a half to get to the building some 700 feet away. The zombies wailed day and night, not unlike banshees. Admittedly, I don’t fully recall the lore around banshees. Were they ghosts? Undead? There’s no way to know.
As I rounded the last corner a sewer gate opened in front of me. I readied my hatchet, thinking the zombies had grown stronger, and watch the gate. Out popped Avem like a whack-a-mole game (I lied earlier, I went one time to that dang clown’s carnival).
“I knew you’d be the one to find me,” he said. “Come, meet the others.”
I followed Avem through the sewer and into the building.
“I can keep them away now,” he said. That was all he said until we got inside.
Inside was twelve stories up. After being one story down and four hours into the crawl, twelve stories up was absurd. The place smelled bad. The walls wore the marks of flames and smoke and blood. I want to make a ‘location, location, location’ joke, but a lot of people died because they picked the wrong building.
Avem opened to the door to the twelfth floor’s lobby area and everything was different. There were shiny tables, bright lights, and wallpaper! And around the tables and under the lights were five other survivors. I did not recognize any of them. Avem introduced them and told me they were working on something big.
It was at this moment Couch threw a rock at a glass dome on the table. The rock ricocheted off the glass and hit Cloud in the face. Skull, Fire, and Bread, cheered. Avem explained the moment and took me to the far window.
It was then that I understood why Avem did not come back. I may never know if he intended to stay out or if he really was lost on a salvage run. He doesn’t talk about those first weeks out of the community. Couch said that Avem showed up one day with a small group of zombies in tow. Skull and Fire mowed the dead down and Bread pulled him inside this tower. None of them remembered the names of their communities. They had been on their own for some time now.
I didn’t know people could be on their own for as long as these survivors had.
On the far end of the window was the reason all of these people had survived. They had something to work on. They couldn’t find their way home so they were working on their own home. A home on the surface.
On the other side of the building was a crater. Likely from one of the bombing runs when the initial rise occurred. On top of the crater were the first beams of a steel structure. The unbreakable glass made a lot of sense after I saw that.
We don’t live on the surface anymore. But that’s changing. With a little work, an expectation of setbacks, and good old fashioned optimism, we’re getting closer. The community network is strong. More and more people are coming to work top side. Domes are popping up all over now. Mostly above communities. And we no longer require craters to start dome construction. That’s pretty nice. Honestly the toughest part? Getting used to natural sunlight. That stuff burns.
Thanks for reading!